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Army Directs New Energy Savings

The Army has begun the process of overhauling the energy efficiency of all of its facilities worldwide. Two policy memos will change the way the Army designs and builds permanent buildings.

The new guidance focuses on water reduction, energy consumption, and specific ways to reduce the impact of Army facilities on the natural environment. Those include more efficient siting, solar water heating, and storm water management. Also, all incandescent light bulbs and older lighting technology is to be replaced within five years.

The Army Corps of Engineers has issued a study that found the Army spends about $1.5 billion dollars a year to provide electricity, and air handling for its structures. The new guidelines, they say, could save as much as 45 percent of that amount in new buildings.

Tags: Technology , Army , Scott Carr

Monday - 11/08/2010, 12:43pm EST

NASA Software Leads to Fuel Savings For Airlines

Software developed at NASA's Ames Research Center is enabling fuel savings for airlines while also increasing their planes' environmental efficiency.

The Ames Direct-To software is a product of NASA aeronautics research in air traffic management. It enables airlines to save fuel and reduce emissions by automatically identifying flight shortcuts that are wind-favorable and acceptable to air traffic controllers.

It's already been adopted by the Boeing Company for commercial use. Their offering a new air traffic efficiency service that uses the software.

Project directors say they've estimated a potential combined savings of about 900 flying minutes per day for all aircraft using the software. That means a potential savings of tens of thousands of flight minutes per year for a medium-sized airline.

Tags: Technology , NASA , Scott Carr

Monday - 11/08/2010, 12:41pm EST

New Math Model Used To Protect A Holiday Favorite

If smoked salmon is on the menu or being served at an upcoming holiday gathering, you can thank scientists with the Department of Agriculture for doing their part to ensure it is safe to eat.

They say they've developed a first-of-its-kind mathematical model that food processors can use to select the perfect combination of temperature and concentrations of salt and smoke compounds in order to reduce or eliminate the possibility of contaminated smoked salmon making its way to market.

USDA researchers say smoked salmon is typically sold in packages that have a refrigerator shelf life of about three to eight weeks. Since dangerous microbes can live at refrigerator temperatures, they say it's important to get rid of the microbes before packages leave the processing plant.

Tags: Technology , Scott Carr

Monday - 11/08/2010, 12:39pm EST

Study Finds Plants Play Larger Role in Cleansing Atmosphere

Researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado say vegetation likely plays a bigger role in cleaning the atmosphere than was even previously thought.

They used genetic studies, and computer modeling to show that deciduous plants absorb about a third more of a common class of air-polluting chemicals than past studies showed. The new study was supported in part by the National Science Foundation.

Plants can produce a particular class of oxygenated chemicals to protect themselves from irritants and repel invaders such as insects, similar to the human body's production of white blood cells due to an infection. It turns out the chemicals have long-term impacts on the environment and human health.

Their research also shows plants can actually adjust their metabolism - absorbing more of the chemicals - as a response to various types of stress.

Tags: Technology , Scott Carr

Monday - 11/01/2010, 07:42pm EDT

USDA/FAA Support Production of Biofuels

The Federal Aviation Administration is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop alternatives to jet fuel.

The agencies will examine the availability of different kinds of feedstocks that could be processed by bio-refineries. Officials say, the development and deployment of alternative fuels is critical to achieving carbon neutral aviation growth by the year 2020.

As part of the effort, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the implementation of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (or BCAP). That program reimburses farmers or other producers for the cost of planting and producing eligible renewable biomass crops - up to 75 percent - within specified areas.

To further stabilize the cost of jet fuel, the agencies have also entered a five year agreement to develop aviation fuel from forest and crop residues and other "green" feedstocks.

Tags: Technology , FAA , USDA , Scott Carr

Monday - 11/01/2010, 07:39pm EDT

DARPA Machine Learning

As part of its Deep Learning program, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (or DARPA) is exploring recent breakthroughs in the ability of machines to learn and assess places and objects.

The need for such research is being driven by the vast amount of data that's become available to Defense commanders and analysts from new types of sensors. For warfighters, the data has to be quickly and correctly analyzed. Currently, that's done by highly trained human operators. But as sensor capabilities expand, DARPA says sophisticated, powerful machines with the ability to imitate, and even surpass, human perceptual capabilities will be needed.

They're building applications that will allow computers to detect and classify objects and activities. So far, the results hold promise for achieving human-level-or-better analysis.

Tags: Technology , DARPA , Scott Carr

Monday - 11/01/2010, 07:38pm EDT

DARPA Kicks off Development of Flying Cars

When the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency says it's ramping up a new Transformer program, they're not talking about transferring AC to DC.... They mean transformers, like the toys, turned movie heroes. Only in the case of DARPA, it's flying cars.

DARPA says their Transformer program will attempt to combine the advantages of ground vehicles and helicopters into a single vehicle. Six vendors will participate in a 12-month effort to develop a robust ground vehicle that can transform into an air vehicle that can take-off and land vertically. It should be able to efficiently travel 250 nautical miles on land and in the air, or any combination, without a dedicated pilot, while carrying up to 1,000 pounds.

The benefits to warfighters would be numerous, including better resupply operations and quicker medical evacuations.

Tags: Technology , DARPA , Scott Carr

Monday - 10/25/2010, 05:59pm EDT

U.S. Forests Sequestering More Carbon

Through recently developed advanced methods of measuring carbon sequestration, the U.S. Forest Service now estimates 41-point-four billion metric tons of carbon is currently stored in the nation's forests, while an additional 192 million metric tons is sequestered each year.

They report the increase is due to both increases in the total area of forest land, and in the amount of carbon stored per acre.

The new information highlights the important role America's forests play in the fight against climate change. The additional carbon sequestered offsets roughly 11-percent of the country's industrial greenhouse gas emissions every year.

National forests contain an average of 77-point-8 metric tons of carbon per acre: a greater density than on private or other public forest lands, due to differing management priorities in national forest than on private lands.

Tags: Technology , Scott Carr

Monday - 10/25/2010, 05:54pm EDT

Air Force to Expand Solar Capabilities

For years, the biggest renewable-energy project in the Air Force was a 140-acre solar array at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. It produces about 14-point-2 megawatts of electricity annually.

Air Force engineers are now set to outdo that project with plans to build three new larger solar arrays by the year 2013.Officials at the Davis Monthan and Luke Air Force Bases in Arizona are planning even larger solar arrays to be constructed, owned, and operated by SunEdison Company.

The Davis Monthan project is expected to generate 14-and-a-half megawatts of solar energy, delivering 35-percent of that bases energy needs.

Meantime, officials at Luke have teamed up with the Arizona Public Service Company to build a 15-megawatt solar array on 100 acres of under-utilized base property. That project could produce enough energy to satisfy half of the base's energy needs, potentially saving up to 10 million dollars on utility bills over the next quarter-century.

Tags: Technology , Air Force , Scott Carr

Monday - 10/25/2010, 05:53pm EDT

Potentially Habitable Planet Discovered

A team of planet hunters from the University of California and the Carnegie Institution of Washington have discovered a planet with three times the mass of Earth orbiting a nearby star at a distance that places it squarely in the middle of the star's "habitable zone." The new findings are based on 11 years of observations of the nearby red dwarf star Gliese 581 using the HIRES spectrometer on the Keck I Telescope in Hawaii. The spectrometer allows precise measurements of a star's motion, which can reveal the presence of planets. The planet lies in an area where liquid water could exist on the planet's surface. If confirmed, it would be the most Earth-like exoplanet ever discovered and the first strong case for a potentially habitable one. Its mass indicates that it is probably a rocky planet with a definite surface and enough gravity to hold on to an atmosphere.

Tags: Technology , Scott Carr

Wednesday - 10/13/2010, 04:26pm EDT
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